They’re ALIVE! McDonald’s Brings Back Its Iconic Halloween Pails

Promotional photo of McDonald's "Boo Buckets" Halloween promotion

By Heather Taylor, Icon Editor, Advertising Week

Something wicked this way comes back to McDonald’s! The beloved Halloween pail trio — McBoo, McPunk’n, and McGoblin — are returning to participating McDonald’s restaurants nationwide starting October 18.

Promotional photo of McDonald's "Boo Buckets" Halloween promotion

Where Have These Halloween Legends Been?!

It’s the question on the minds of every elder millennial who grew up loving these pails — and maybe had a few McBoos used for storage purposes long after the Happy Meal was gone.

The McDonald’s Halloween pails first made their debut in 1986. When you ordered a Happy Meal, you’d receive the meal in a festive pail instead of a box or bag. The earliest Halloween Pails, according to Dread Central, were all orange with a different face etched on each pail. McBoo was a ghostly wail, McPunk’n a grinning Jack-o’-lantern, and McGoblin a real spooky presence.

Promotional photo of McDonald's "Boo Buckets" Halloween promotion

By 1989, the Halloween Pails had been reissued due to increasing popularity and even spent a year on hiatus. They made their return from hiatus in new colors and pail designs which allowed each pail to look more like the monster’s face behind its name. McBoo, McPunk’n, and McGoblin now resembled a ghost, pumpkin, and goblin, respectively. McBoo’s special power? This pail glowed in the dark!

The Halloween Pails could be found at most McDonald’s locations throughout the early 1990s. Over the years, they received refreshes with cookie cutter lids and new pail designs in 1994.

The Halloween pails went on another hiatus for five years. In 1999, they came back but with McDonaldland characters on the buckets. Half-hearted attempts to roll out the pails occurred in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016, but don’t worry if you don’t remember them. These pails were largely promotional tie-ins with franchise films. None of them featured McBoo, McPunk’n, or McGoblin.

Where Can I Get a Halloween Pail?

It’s hard to know quite what inspired the return of the Halloween pails.

Was it the cries of a nation three years deep into the COVID-19 pandemic and a year into crushing inflation begging for scraps of nostalgic joy? McDonald’s enthusiasts missing the “old” McDonald’s to the point they’re liking every post they possibly can on the Filming In McDonaldland Facebook and Instagram accounts? The McDonald’s corporate office finally relenting and bringing fun back to their marketing department?

Promotional photo of McDonald's "Boo Buckets" Halloween promotion

Personally, I had started hearing underground rumors on Reddit last month but didn’t want to report on anything until the fates of these buckets were sealed. After some teasing here and there, McDonald’s finally confirmed their return on October 18 until October 31. The company also noted you can keep their spooky spirits alive year-round with suggestions on using the pails to pot plants and accessorize your ensembles.

Promotional photo of McDonald's "Boo Buckets" Halloween promotion

Yes, these legendary pails will be back until October 31, 2022. After this, will the Halloween pails return for 2023? Maybe. Or maybe they’re going back on hiatus again. Whatever the case, my inner child is running not walking to the nearest McDonald’s on October 18. Happy Halloween!